In which your blogger attempts, at great inconvenience, to sample every commercially-available dessert in the Greater Glasgow area so you don’t have to.
Sure I’m on a diet, but that doesn’t mean I’m dead. So when I got an email from the Scottish Blogger Events Network asking if I’d like to come along to the Glasgow Hilton’s afternoon tea lounge and sample some of their menu … well, I can’t remember the last time I replied to an email so quickly.
Named for the Gaelic word for, well, tea, the Hilton’s Tì Lounge opened about six months ago as part of a foodie refit focusing on quality Scottish produce in contemporary surroundings (it exists alongside the Connich, or ‘Encounter’, Bar and Morblas, or ‘Great Taste’ seafood bar and grill). Tì specialises in afternoon tea with a twist, serving ‘Confessions of a Chocoholic’ and ‘Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea’ platters along with the more traditional selection of scones, sandwiches and cakes.
Blogger pals Michelle, Emma and I helped ourselves to a glass of complimentary bubbly (I tell a lie, Michelle was the designated driver responsible for getting me to the other side of Glasgow for the Dropkick Murphys later – mwah!) and took a seat at a table set with gorgeously fashionable glass teacups and ‘tea-timers’ branded by suppliers Twinings to ensure a perfect brew. We were quickly presented with the first of the three teas on the menu: the Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea.
The Mad Hatter’s isn’t all that different to the ‘traditional’ tea that eventually ended up on our table when it came time to sample the menu rather than simply marvel – like the rest of the Tì menu it is served on a minimalist metal frame leaving the beautiful cakes to display themselves. Instead of scones and shortbread this tea comes with a slightly more adventurous themed cake selection – with cupcakes! – and white chocolate-coated ‘Queen of Hearts’ strawberries. I didn’t have the latter but my table companions assured me that they were delicious.
It’s the attention to detail that makes the Tì experience special, although I was disappointed to discover this was merely lemonade with blue food colouring and had no magical effects.
We ultimately enjoyed the ‘classic’ tea: little scones with jam and proper clotted cream, finger sandwiches and miniature versions of traditional cakes including carrot cake, banana loaf and Victoria sponge. But it was the ‘Confessions of a Chocoholic’ tea, set up tantalisingly out of reach on the other side of the room, that caught my attention – this version ditches the sandwiches, moves the cakes (in bite-size versions) to the bottom tier and adds chocolate fondue and a selection of dippable fruit, marshmallows and wafers. I caught the eye of one of the friendly staff who were on hand to answer all of our questions about the menu and asked whether the platter was to go to waste. The next thing I knew, our table were tucking into our second tea of the evening. Oops.
Afternoon teas are served with your choice from a selection of Twinings loose-leaf teas, and staff at Tì have had special training to help you choose the right one. After being brought jars of the various black, white and ’tisane’, or herb infusion, teas to try I settled on Russian Caravan, a slightly stronger take on the traditional builder’s brew which my Russian dining companion informed me should be drunk black, with lemon. It was easily a new favourite. Diners also have the choice of the now-traditional glass of bubbly or Tì’s own signature cocktail, made with gin (yay!) and blackcurrant and lavender tea.
With prices ranging from £14-17 per person (without booze), Tì is a competitively priced option for an afternoon tea that’s a little bit different, in lovely surroundings. I’ll certainly be back.
LOCATION: Hilton Hotel, 1 William Street, Glasgow G3 8HT
OPEN: Mon-Sun, 12pm-5pm
WEB: Tì Lounge at Glasgow Hilton